EXCERPT

 

Chapter 1: Stiletto Stilts

 

          Thou shalt not hit on a taller woman. It wasn’t anywhere in the Bible, but it was a dating commandment that I was learning to live by. This meant no initiating conversations with them, no flirting with them, and above all, no dating them. Based on my thirty-seven years’ worth of experience, I was convinced that most women wanted nothing to do with men that didn’t measure up to them in their highest heels. At 5'6", that usually didn’t leave me with many women to choose from, but I’d have to work with the cards I had been dealt in order to one day find my queen.

          Based on what I had seen, I doubted that I’d be able to discover my soulmate in the Saturday night crowd at the Urbia Lounge, Oakland, California’s newest meat market. The place was packed with a host of WNBA-looking women who, judging by the uninviting scowls on some of their faces, seemed like they’d much rather dunk on me than dance with me.

          I was supposed to meet up with my best friend, Fritz, over an hour ago, but he had clearly stood me up, and I would have left earlier if it weren’t for the DJ who had been holding my ears hostage with an assortment of old school hip hop classics. After I reached the bottom of my second overpriced cocktail, I took a seat at a table near the small dance floor and watched some of the happy-go-lucky Millennials who seemed to be having the time of their lives. As the music transitioned into some obscenity-laced songs that were much more popular with the youngsters and much more of a mystery to me, I started to feel like a fish out of water until I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I spun around and was shocked to see a breathtaking 5'10" woman with the friendliest smile I had seen all night. Although it was tempting, I didn’t allow myself to get too excited because she probably thought she knew me, and the first words out of her mouth were bound to be an apology.

          “Hi!” she said.

          I stood up and then recognized the hint of surprise in her eyes. She clearly expected it to take me a bit more time to reach my full elevation, and was probably caught off guard when it didn’t.

          “Uh… hello.”

          “Hi! What’s your name?”

          “My name is Ethan.”

          “It’s nice to meet you, Ethan.” She extended her hand and said, “My name is Lisa.”

          “Hi, Lisa. It’s very nice to meet you and I’ve gotta say, that dress looks fantastic on you!”

          Hearing the words that had just slipped out of my mouth, confirmed that I had somehow shifted into partial flirt mode, and before I knew it, I found myself straining to see through Lisa’s short black, see-through dress without being caught.

          “Thanks, Ethan, and I hate to bother you, but I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”

          “Sure!”

          By that point, I was completely mesmerized by her smile, and was far too deep under her spell to put up any resistance. So, with the exception of robbing a bank, I was ready to help her do anything she asked.

          “Could you take a picture of me and my girlfriends?” she pleaded as she pulled her phone out of her purse.

          “No problem,” I said while mentally kicking myself for flirting with a woman beyond my reach, and thereby breaking my commandment.

          It took Lisa and her two friends a total of three minutes to “prep” for a pic that took me three seconds to take, and after I returned the camera, I half-heartedly asked her if it came out okay. I got my answer when I saw all three of their smiles fade at the same time, while they stared silently at the mess I had apparently just made.

          When Lisa finally looked at me and said, “It’s all good,” I translated her response to mean, “It’s not good at all,” as I watched the three of them scamper away from me. My guess was that same picture would have been “just perfect” if I was 6'3", like the guy Lisa was now giving her camera to in the opposite corner of the lounge.

          I decided to take one last lap around the place before calling it a night, but as soon as I placed my empty drink on a nearby table, a woman caught my eye. She was sitting at a small table near the edge of the dance floor, and I studied her intensely for a few minutes as she rocked back and forth to the beats that were pumping through the oversized speakers. She was alone, so if I was going to make a move, at least for the moment, I didn’t need to worry about finding an unknown wingman and begging him to run interference on a potentially unfriendly girlfriend. She also didn’t have a drink in her hand, which meant that she couldn’t rely on the classic “I need to finish my drink” excuse. Best of all, she looked to be about 5'5" from my vantage point, which was right in my sweet spot.

          After procrastinating for as long as I could, I finally decided to approach her, but instead of going with a bland “would you like to dance” line, I planned to throw in a “with me” at the end while motioning to my heart, implying that she’d surely break it if she turned me down. I tried to look casual as I nonchalantly made my way toward her, but I could sense that my window of opportunity was closing fast, as other male patrons were starting to take notice of the woman who had already been locked on my radar screen for the past five minutes. Adding to my anxiety was something inside, telling me that I was going to find a way to screw it up, as usual, but I was determined not to end the night on a sour note.

          Just before I reached her table, she stood up and immediately my heart sank. While she was seated, I hadn’t noticed her four-inch stiletto stilts, which gave her a height advantage on me that was at least three inches. The size of the challenge now standing in front of me dampened my mood faster than a busted condom. After the camera phone disaster just moments ago with Lisa, my first impulse was to race right by her and just pretend that I was in a hurry to catch up with an old buddy who looked a heck of a lot like the brick wall a few feet behind her. But, my only two friends in the place (Gin and Tonic) wouldn’t allow me to turn back, and they quickly drowned out every negative thought that threatened to keep me from completing my mission.

          “Would you like to dance with me?” I asked as I motioned to my heart.

          She took one look at me (good sign), thought about it for the longest three seconds of my life (bad sign), looked around in both directions (worse sign), and then said, “No, I… uh… don’t like the music in here.” (Check please.)

          Not waiting until she stood up was a rookie move that I was far too old to make, and before things could get any worse, I bolted toward the exit without saying another word. If nothing else, my encounters tonight with Ms. Quick Pic and Ms. Music Hater had validated the importance of always obeying my eleventh commandment in order to avoid these types of depressing and embarrassing episodes. I needed to just stick to my own kind: vertically disabled. They had to be 5'5" or shorter in heels, which meant that my son would be short, his son would be even shorter, and my great grandson wouldn’t be tall enough to even ride a roller coaster.

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© 2017 by Kevin D. Patterson